Amanda Pierce (Monica Potter) is an art restorer at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York with very bad taste in men. When she comes home to find her current beau in bed with another woman (“This isn’t what it looks like,” he protests), she has to find another apartment. She moves in with four towering fashion models and promptly falls (literally) for Jim Winston (Freddie Prinze, Jr.), the Prince Charming across the street who makes her weak in the knees. One little problem — as she gazes into his window, it appears that he has killed someone. Amanda is caught between fear and longing as the models act as sort of combination Greek chorus members/evil stepsisters/fairy godmothers guiding her to solve both the mystery and the romantic dilemma.
This plot could be played a number of ways from slapstick (think Lucille Ball) to terror (think “Rear Window” or “Gaslight”). The tone this version tries to strike is something like “date movie for teenage girls whose boyfriends love Adam Sandler.” So what we get is some swoony romance, a lot of pratfalls, and intermittent gross-out jokes. For example, not once, but twice the snooty supermodels are trapped in the bathroom to no end of would-be comic chaos. The first time they are hiding out in Jim’s shower while he has a post-pirogi visit to the bathroom. The models get to engage in frantic breath-holding and face-squinching. The second time they are in a restaurant men’s room and listen to two plumbers engage in conversation misperceived as sexual before a toilet explodes. The movie’s first ten minutes include two gay jokes and a crack about menopause, all of which, like the bathroom scenes, miss rising to the level of actually being funny.
The models are good sports and enjoy making fun of their image as vapid gold-diggers. Potter (the wife in “Con Air” and the girlfriend in “Patch Adams”) is pretty and appealing but she has no comic sparkle. The movie needs Meg Ryan or Jenna Elfman (and a better script). What we get instead is a standard-issue blue-eyed blonde with an acting range as narrow as her roommates’ hips. Prinze has real star appeal, but deserves much better than this generic role.
Parents should know that the humor and plot may be juvenile, but the movie is raunchier than many PG-13s, with some very strong and graphic language. When the models do a makeover on Amanda, they tell her to clench her behind and tweak her nipples. Amanda’s lesbian friend grabs her breast. The dog Prinze walks for a neighbor tries to mount Amanda, which is supposed to be funny. There is violence, including an apparent murder and some shooting, but it is not explicit or very threatening. Some parents may also be concerned about the way that the models exploit the men who want to date them and about the foolish chances taken by the characters.
Families who see the movie should talk about why some people make mistakes in trusting the wrong people. They may also want to talk about whether a life devoted to looking beautiful can lead someone to be superficial and self-centered.
Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy “Charade” (the perfect combination of thrills and romance) and romantic comedies like “If a Man Answers.”